Friday, March 23, 2012


Life has resumed. Classes, volunteering at BRCC, Kids stuff, family stuff, spring break visitors, etc have kept me occupied far too much lately. But I have gotten to catch up with a few dear people about the trip to Nepal and talk through some things that I observed, experienced and learned.

My Mom has a gift of hospitality. She has a natural gift of making people feel welcomed and loved all around her and in her home. It was always remarkable to me how comfortable people are in her presence and home. It's a beautiful gift.

Going to Trust Home was, without a doubt, an experience in being loved. "Love Languages" are still a topic of conversations in Christian circles. It's something I ponder often. If you don't know what it is, a few years ago, someone wrote a book about the ways we express and receive love. For instance, if "Acts of Service" is your primary love language, you express your love best through doing something service oriented for someone or feel loved when someone does an act of service for you (like washing your dishes, your car, or other labor task). Other "love languages" are words of affirmation (spoken or written), quality time (spending time with someone), physical touch, and gifts. Fairly straightforward, I've found that understanding a person's love language and speaking love to them in their own love language will make a person feel loved, appreciated and build a stronger relationship. I believe this is a way that God loves us in Agape love, and the way we are called to love others.

What happens, often though, is that we give in our own love language to the detriment of our loved ones. For instance, two of my most valued love languages currently are gifts and words of affirmation. One of my best friends' love language is primarily quality time. If I were to speak to her only in my love languages, she would never feel loved by me. This is something that happens in relationships and marriages all the time that leave people feeling unappreciated, unloved and left to question the care of the other person.

Interestingly, like I said earlier, when we left the Trust Home, I noticed that there was no love language that Trust Home left out in ministering to us, their guests. What was vastly different about visiting Trust Home is that Trust Home is actually these kids home. It is their 'Mo Mo' (Mom)'s home. So we were their guests. And every step of the way, they wanted to make sure we felt loved. Each of those love languages were touched.

Quality Time? Every waking moment we had, we spent with the kids, they grabbed us by hand, took us to play. MoMo (Dolma) made time for each one of us on the time through her day, would stop to talk to us and give us her full attention. Sometimes, without word, just a presence.

Physical Touch? Yes. The culture of Tibet is naturally not physically affectionate. Men and Women don't touch publicly, etc. But those little kids, they'd jump on your lap, grab your hand, the girls played with our hair. Dolma, sweet Dolma, would put her arm around our waist as we walked, talked or stood on the roof and drank in the view of Annapurna.

Words of Affirmation? Yes. On the last day we were there, during Devotion time, The Girls' biggest sister stood and spoke the things that the girls appreciated and thanked us for our time, our visit, the gifts we brought, etc. The Boys' biggest brother did the same. Then Arjun spoke, and finally Dolma. They spoke of how we were family, how loved we were, how appreciated Blue-Ridge was. It was quite an experience.

Acts of Service? This is the easiest answer. Everything they did served us. From meals, to our arrival of carrying our luggage to our rooms, not letting us do any work. The kids did everything for us. It was service as it's most gentle. Dolma wanted us to allow the Girls or the Boys to do it. "My Boys will do it. My Girls will do it."

Gifts? Yes. This was the most surprising. This orphan home is provided for, and takes care of the children well. But they had gifts for us. Bags, a yak-wool blanket, jewelry made by the older girls, all wrapped in a bundle. For each of us. We were called up one by one, blessed by Mo Mo, give a Tibetan welcoming scarf of honor and given a gift. I think we were all in tears buy the end of that final devotion time with our Tibetan family.

There was not one love language left unanswered for our hearts. Whether your love language was just one, or multiple, there was no way you were going to leave Trust home feeling unloved. From this, my greatest lesson was that this is what the Body should be like. We should be loving people so well in all language that there is no person in Christ who should ever leave feeling unloved.

My prayer, my heart is that people never leave my presence feeling the full weight of my love for them. Please, God, make that so in me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Good Morning, Nepal supporters! Time for another snipped of processing from the journey there and back again. (Yes that was a Hobbit reference, for you non-nerds.) Last week after my return, a friend asked me three questions about my trip that promised to dig a little deeper into my psyche about this trip and what God was up to while I was in Nepal. I love the questions because it makes me think a bit about how to frame a lot of what was going on. With so much happening on the trip, it's hard to figure out a way to put it all into words. But her three questions were these: 1) What was your first impression? 2) How has your view of God changed? 3) What was your last impression? - So let me try to frame this up for you.

First impressions were hard to really give words to. My first impression of Nepal formed the word "decaying" in my heart and mind. Physically, the buildings were falling apart, piles of rubble everywhere,   the wires of electric lines were in disarray, and things looked like they might collapse at the first sign of destruction. Beyond that, though, dust and exhaust shaded everything, from buildings to people. It was, visually, everything I ever expected a third world country to look like. The people we encountered were kind, hospitable but also had empty and hallow eyes - void of life - from the smallest child to the oldest eyes. I was exhausted by the time we landed in Kathmandu, but even with that weariness, there was a a clear heaviness to the atmosphere. This brought to mind Ephesians 6:12 because the heaviness was not physical. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (NASB) The spiritual oppressiveness is tangible in places like Nepal. Before I left, a friend of mine mocked the spiritual battle I felt raging inside my heart. It was someone who I don't think has ever encountered real demonic activity. If you've never truly felt or seen the grip of the enemy over a person's life, I understand the difficulty with accepting it. To quote a favorite movie of mine, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist." That is so true. North America, as a whole has no real concept of the spiritual battle raging because we have images of a red-skinned, horned devil with a pitchfork and tail. He sneaks around our culture masked in pretty faces, subtle religious activity, glossed magazine pages and other subversive ways. One of the girls on our team described Nepal as the place where Satan was out on the lawn relaxing in a lawn chair relaxing because he's got a firm grip on the people there. Destruction, lies, decay, hopelessness. I saw it everywhere and the enemy's finger prints were all over it.

This was vastly different once we pulled into Trust Home. There was an overwhelming joy, peace and refuge to the environment of Trust Home. Whether or not that's a side affect of the kid's joy in a secure and loving environment or the constant stream of prayer that comes from Dolma's heart and presence or the pressing of Jesus-exampled behavior the kids are trained in...I don't know. Before I arrived in Nepal, Shea had shared her heart that God as "refuge" had been something she'd been digging in. I took that in myself and started pressing into that concept because before I left the U.S., I was in need of a refuge, a hiding place. Psalm 91's image of a refuge and hiding under the shadow of His wings was something that resonated with me. It still does. More so, even when I drove through Nepal. I wasn't afraid of the oppressiveness or heaviness of darkness that existed. But the safe harbor of Trust Home where you don't have to be concerned with the darkness or oppressiveness of the culture was a tangible example of the Harbor that God is for us in hard and difficult times. There was safety at Trust Home, our team felt safe enough to share, safe enough to love freely, safe enough to breathe. I wouldn't say I saw God differently, per se, but I did see a physical representation of this Refuge-ness of God.

Safety is such an important part of Love. Loving is a vulnerable activity and requires that both parties give safety and refuge. God never fails to be faithful, safe and a refuge. How desperately the church needs to be this to and for each other. How often I fail at this is something I can't even express. I want to love like that. I want to be a safe harbor for broken hearts, oppressed and heavy people. But I cannot do that on my own strength. I must seek refuge for my own brokenness, my own heaviness in God and not depend on myself or other people to be that for me.

Last impression as I left? We had to drive back to Kathmandu from Trust Home and the oppression and heaviness was still there, but overall, I was ready to go. I wasn't ready to leave Trust Home per se, because I'd grown to love and enjoy my days there. But I knew God had accomplished what He had done in me - at least for the moment. And like I said in my last post, it was time to leave and put all of that into practice at home. What I left Nepal thinking was "There's hope for hopelessness." After listening to the young man, Karma's soft-spoken voice share his story of being the only Christ follower in his village and how his young and tender heart is to go back and change his village for Christ and hearing Dolma share how she is training her kids to share the gospel with their own people, I knew there was a light, a beacon shining brightly in Nepal. Even after visiting the downright evil places of worhsip for Hindu and Buddhist faith the day we left, I left knowing that even though the enemy was lounging in his chair, God was busy in Pokhara and getting ready to bust out all over Nepal and Tibet through those kids. I'm praying for those boys and girls and all the people that encounter Trust Home through Pokhara's community, or the hired help at Trust Home or through encounters with the kids in various camps, colleges, etc.

Coming Home, I was just glad to have seen what I saw, experience what I did. I pray that I never forget the reality of Spiritual Warfare but also never forget the fact that God is MORE than the enemy, Greater than any power on earth. The danger in the Church is to either make too much of the enemy or not enough. Both are greatly dangerous pitfalls of faith. Balance in this is so incredibly important.

So that's my answer to my sweet friend's questions. Hope it's good. Anyone else who has questions is absolutely able to ask, I'd be glad to answer. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm home. Back from Nepal, from Trust Home, from the journey God took me on over the 9/10 days I was gone. It was definitely time to come home. Back to real life, back to responsibilities, back to fitting the lessons into a day-to-day living. That last one will likely be the hardest. Or at least, from this vantage point, it feels like it will be.

We arrived at Trust Home after 36 hours of travel and experiencing some interesting things. From having to read a book called "The Jewish Enemy" (about Nazi propaganda in WWII) in an Arab nation's airport; landing in Kathmandu and being unable to breathe (just me being allergic to the air in Kathmandu, apparently); mystery sausage (either chicken or goat); a 6 hour drive turning into an 11 hour day which included sitting on the side of the road for 4 hours in traffic; to arrival at Trust Home where the headlines shone on 71 smiling faces so excited to meet and greet their new "Aunties." Those are just some of the things we learned, saw and experienced in the first 36 hours from leaving Lynchburg. It's going to take a awhile to process it all, so, I ask your patience as I work through trying to write about it all.

A lot of people who go on these kinds of trips have purpose and reason for going. All I knew was God prompted, provided and pushed me out the door when it came to this trip. Not that I did not want to go, quite the contrary, but I had no idea what God wanted for me to do there or even learn. In one of my first journal entries on the trip, I even wrote "God, I don't know why you even have me here," in a moment of resignation. Truth is, my greatest fear was that God wouldn't do with me or show me anything while I was there. I was afraid - terrified, actually - that this trip would just be a trip and nothing more. I wanted something from God. It didn't take Him long to come through for me, but it was quite different than what I expected.

I mentioned in posts before I left that the theme of life was about resting in God amid the busy schedule of life. I thought maybe that the point of all that resting was to be able to jump into action when we arrived. I could not have been more wrong. This trip was all about pushing more deeply into rest, silence and quietness. And a whole lot of not doing but being. This might seem counter-intuitive. It did to me. With a leadership bend in me, sitting back in observation, silence and solitude is not really what is natural for me. Which is why this trip was so important in my own life. It was all about doing what is not natural in me.

On the flight from Doha to Kathmandu, God planted a verse deep in my heart regarding what He was up to in my heart. "This is what the LORD says: And I will extend peace to her like a river..." Is. 66:12a This verse lined up with several verses and things people had spoken over me in the few days prior to leaving. When I read that verse, I knew that was something God was getting ready to plow deep into my heart. I went to bed our first night in Kathmandu with that ringing in my ears. The following morning after breakfast, Shea handed me a slip of paper that had this on it:

Amanda - God has taken me to Isaiah 30:15 as I pray over you and I wanted to share it with you. "this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Only in returning to me and resting in Me will you be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength." God has you here for this, to rest in Him and find your strength in Him. I'm praying for you! <3 Shea. 

The trip was that. A place where I discovered rest, but more than that. I had my eyes opened in the silence and rest that mature faith, strong faith is a quiet faith. Watching younger believers on this trip, I saw a lot of "noise" - voices in their heads, fretting, stresses, pushing back against God, working, busy-ness, moving, etc. Contrasting that with the faith and leadership of Dolma, Shea & recalling those I respect and honor as deeply mature believers at home (like my Mom & older brother), I saw stillness, quietude, silence, and peace. A mature faith is a quiet faith.

Things started clicking in my heart right away, as God did not wait until the end of the trip to speak, but gave me His heart for me in this trip in the beginning. He didn't stop emphasizing this either. After Shea gave me that note, our drive to Pokhara took us on an 11 hour drive through the mountains all the way beside a river-road. We followed the course of the river almost the entire way. When we arrived at Trust Home, my assigned room was right beside the canal as it poured into a small outlet and so for the 4 days we were at Trust Home, I heard nothing but rushing water in my room. And the rest of the week was puzzling through the concept of "peace like a River" - when Rivers appear anything but peaceful at times (rapids, waterfalls, etc).

On that note, I will wrap up this first post but God did something in me deeply showing me and growing something of a quieter faith in my heart than I had the day I left. Now as I've come home, the challenge is to live that out.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Today's the day! We leave today. I got a little nervous last night, but was reminded to read Psalm 8 and Psalm 63 by my brother and the butterflies went away. So good stuff there. :) I'm excited, a bit nervous but really just ready to slow down for some days and let God have this time. Who knows what he's going to do? I don't know...but something. I have to trust that. Otherwise, my fear of walking away from this trip with Nothing is going to come crashing on me before I get back. 

Maybe that's supposed to happen. Maybe my fears are supposed to come true. Maybe not. I'm good with both, really. But, really I'm gonna step out in faith trusting God not to let me down, so to speak. 

Yesterday I was driving to BRCC from breakfast with a friend who had just shared her connection in a recent trip to our teaching value of Deuteronomy 6:5, loving God with all we've got. In Kids Community we spend time focusing on a teaching value and are given corresponding scripture cards to pray through each month. Mine is always inside my wallet. Safely kept with my money so I see it every time I use money. 

As I drove the the building, I began to pray that God would show me what it was about our value of Loving God and Deut 6:5 that I was going to have applied for this trip. I began thinking about this silence God has had me in for the last month or so and remembered that sometimes difficult things in relationships are things that strengthen the relationship. I realized that maybe God is growing a steadier love for Himself in me by His silence. I continued to realize that as I pray for God to teach me to love Him more, these kinds of things happen and it never fails to show me how to love him further and deeper. 

I was so engrossed in this prayer that I arrived at the building in no time. Pulled into the parking lot. Put my car in park and reached down to turn the key off. Looked to the passenger seat, which, heretofore was empty except for my jacket. I look down and laying face up on the passenger seat with the text staring me in the eye to read was my Deut 6:5 Scripture card. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength..." I stopped for a minute thinking..."wait.....that was not was....IN MY WALLET." I had to stop and process this for a minute. 

Now, I'm not one for uber spiritualistic miraculous things. They don't' happen to me often because, personally, I see life as one big miracle. I mean, with what we deserve and what God offers - do we need anything further? Hardly. But this....this moment sent chills up my spine and made my breath catch in my throat because it doesn't happen very often. 

With one rather humbled shaking hand, I picked up the card, thanked God and put in securely in my phone cover's clear back facing out so that I would see it everyday I'm gone. 

We leave today. Packed up, ready to go, and metaphorically ready to lean into Loving God in this trip, and pressing into each area that that means for me along the way. 

Here I am, Send me. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Well, the Great Passport Fiasco of 2012 is resolved. $200 extra dollars for a new one, $60 for gas and some extra bucks for coffee and such. But I walked away with a whole day on Valentine's Day with my dad, a sense of peace, reading about Nazis, and knowing there was a whole army of people praying for me.

While I was in DC, I had a bazillion texts, Facebook messages and other communiques telling me I was prayed for, cared for and asking for updates. So much so that my phone was dead by 2:15pm. There are some take aways from the whole missing passport/trip to DC, I'd like to share.

- resting in God's plan regardless of how the situation turns out can bring a tremendous amount of peace and rest. As I've said before, a theme of life right now is resting in God for everything. Knowing I was being prayed for, and having prayed that the passport would be found or that we'd be ok with the trip to DC made the necessity of the trip less of a burden and more of a joy.

- spending time with my dad alone was a lot of fun. We talked about God, laughed about silly DC traffic, about this upcoming trip, serving in Kid Community together, about books, about Nazis (I'm taking a class on Nazi Germany), about living in Virginia, about Music, and movies and a million other things. It was a good Valentine's Day 'date' with my dad. :) If this trip was less about the passport and more about some quality time with my dad, I'd be a-ok with that.

- not getting worked up about stuff is a brilliant way to live. We encountered traffic, parking issues, security measures in the passport office that were silly, and a lot of other things that would have been irritating or might have added to the stress of the day, but both of us just kind of rolled with punches and without complaining or fussin, just reminded ourselves of the "adventure" of our GPS taking us a weird way to DC and getting stopped in traffic on 29S just off of I-66. :) I can't speak for Dad, but I do know that this is a lesson I'm always learning, just kicking' back and enjoying the ride is way more fun. Perhaps there's something to this as I prepare to head to a third-world country again? ;)

- it never ceases to amaze me how loved I am. Before the clock had even turned over to 9am, I had 10 texts, cards arrive, Facebook & twitter messages - all telling me how loved I was and wishing me sweet Valentine's Day wishes. That was a beautiful and sweet thing. It reminded me of just how much I love Valentine's Day, and how much my name is fulfilled in my life. I am a beloved daughter of the King and His people never fail to make that known.

- being kind will take you far. The passport agent was generous, helpful and genuinely surprised at the kindness and polite responses I gave him. He seemed surprised to find a kind face on the other side of his window. It was a reminder that, as my mom always says, "You can catch more flies with honey."

Ultimately, I don't really know why God had this excursion to DC planned but I know I'm thankful I live close enough to the national Passport office so I could get my passport in one day, and that I was able to take a break from reading about Nazis to read more of the Hunger Games book to my dad because he is now hooked on them too. :D Also, I'm thankful for a really special memory with my dad. And for the hordes of people who have asked about my passport situation and shared in the whole experience at Blue Ridge. What a great community we have!

*edit* also, really glad I woke up exactly 7 days before I left knowing I'd lost the passport, otherwise I'd have been in a world of trouble if I hadn't thought about it until today. :) Thank you Jesus for that. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

This week has been a week of rest, even in spite of the busy-ness of life and school. I got to spend all of Monday with my sick nephew while his parents were away and my parents had appointments to head off to. We watchd 5 of the 6 Star Wars movies and I got a "You're a good Aunt Mandi" from the boy. That was good medicine, I'll tell you (both the compliment and the Star Wars watching ;))

But I've been determined to not force myself out of this desert, but rather look for God where I am. God gave me a song this week put words on that. Kari Jobe's "Find You on My Knees" - nothing more profound.

Sunday was a uniquely special and awesome experience. On the heels of the night on my face with God and David Crowder Saturday night, I got to see God's power and feel His presence again on Sunday morning. We led our kids in our small groups through a guided prayer time, where they wrote down four prayers - prayers of thanks, praise, repentance and request. It was an amazing time with my little group of fourth grade girls. I read some of their prayers and this one really reminded me 1) why I serve in the Kids' Community and 2) How amazing God is just because of who He is. It took a 4th grader to help me see Him a bit clearer.

With her permission, I want to share this little girls' prayer of praise to God:
God, I praise you because....You ARE my creator, You ARE my father, You ARE my light. You help me through everything. You are the one and only God. You understand what I'm going through. You answer me when I need you, You love me with all Your heart, You spend time with me, You have fun with me, You are the leader and forgiver of my life because you live in me. 

Every time I type out her words, I am filled to overflowing at the profundity of her simple words. On the heels of this, one of the team who just returned from Nicaragua shared her heart on her blog and I was reminded of that God - the one I met in Nicaragua myself less than a year ago. I remember the conversation I had with Angie about how He's the same God here as He is there in the dusty streets of Nicaragua. For me, it's just a matter of resting on His love, His power and who He is in the right now. He's faithful, He won't let me down, ever.

One final song is ringing in my ears today - What Love is This heart sings "and I confess, You're always enough for me..." Amen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A few weeks ago, the David Crowder band released their final collaborative album. It was highly anticipated as the DCB has provided such songs as "Wholly Yours" and "Oh Praise Him" among other powerful worship songs into the Chuch's collective worship book. I've always loved these Texas boys and their hearts to lead millions in worship. In concert, it's not performance, but a chance to meet God. So I was excited for the new album, but saving money is highly important right now, and a dear friend sent me a copy of this to listen.

I have to be honest though. I haven't really listened to it except for clips here and there. I had a feeling that this album, called "A Requiem Mass" was going to be more of an experience than I was ready for. I cannot say why or what held me back - maybe it was God saying I was not quite ready for the breaking, maybe it was me pushing away from God like a tired child fighting rest, or maybe it was some combination of the both of those things. Either way, the time came last night. I sat down with my journal, silence and then hit play. What follows are a few things that I wrote in my journal as I travelled with God through the full album in a range of colors, emotion and brokeness, healing and beauty. It's fragmented because that's what the time was....a parade of thoughts, song lyrics and prayers in my heart and mind....and a few words from God directly to me. (those will be in bold italics)

me: You come and find me and I call it life, Oh I call it life....
recall from a conversation earlier in the day
"God will not leave your deepest cravings unfulfilled if they are there."  But I have to stop seeking to fill them myself, stop making mudpies in the slums and wait patiently for His sweet holiday by the sea...

Oh Lord, Have Mercy. Oh Christ have mercy....Kyrie Eleison Christe Eleison. 

You are slow to anger and abounding in grace, mercy and love for Your child. 

Forgiven and clean, it's too wonderful...Feel this grace rescuing....

What I need is resurrection and redemption, shine Your Light, Pick Me Up. Generous King, O come, rescue me! 

Hold me. Let me rest. I need Your heart and refuge...

Beloved. I have never left you. Give ME all of you...Everybody heals with love, but it is MY love that heals. 

Do you KNOW that you are MY Beloved? Really know? 

Save a place for me at your feet. Let me sit in silence at Your feet. 

I bow low with all of my heart, I bow low....

King of Glory, free me from what keeps me from Your light. Oh My God, My God, let me pass from death to Life....You won't turn your back on me....I've been pushed down into the ground but I will rise up a tree....

I love you. Beloved, I will not leave you, reject you, walk away or desert you. You are mine to keep safe...I've done all this, can I not do more? Can I not exceed even that? Will you not let me move? 

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. Behold the Lamb of God who heals us once again. 

Rest in me. My Shelter is pure. 

Sweet Lord, you are Great Love. taking away sin and reproach. You are my resurrection, I will rise because of You. I will rest in your salvation, I will stand still, so still and KNOW and wait on the Salvation of My God. 

I rest in you and just breathe....while you hold me, I just breathe. 

Be still, beloved. Be Still....Rest.....